In the abstract, the Oberhofer style might seem obvious: energetic lead, open lyrics, catchy hooks. But Oberhofer, a blistery indie rock band from New York by way of Tacoma, has an edge to it that polite indie pop disdains. Whether in the spin moves of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Brad Oberhofer, the cheeky “gotcha!” moment before “Dead Girls Dance,” or the disco breakdown of one of the new tracks, Oberhofer’s performance was more dynamic and thrilling than your average indie-pop band.
Oberhofer’s always been exciting to watch live, but this performance was something different. This was by far the most polished, most professional Oberhofer performance I’ve seen. This is a new Oberhofer: not necessarily altered in DNA, but more confident, more seasoned, and perhaps a little tighter. Brad Oberhofer moves more than he used to, his floppy hair grown out to resemble a poodle. The band as a whole is more muscular than it’s ever been. The members play like they’ve been around the block, as if a blazing performance of early hit “o0Oo0Oo” is as natural as drinking water. For a band on the verge of breaking big—it signed to Daniel Glass’ hotshot indie label, played Letterman the same night, and will release its Steve Lilywhite produced debut Time Capsules II next week—Oberhofer has the tunes and chops to play as many shows as it needs.
For all its marketability at the moment, indie pop is hard to do well. When it’s too raucous, it becomes atonal. When it’s too polite, it becomes a high-cultured pretentious mess robbed of intensity and spontaneity. Oberhofer sits in that troublesome genre of “fractured art-pop,” but its songs are catchier and more complex than a pop band of the moment, its performances more riotous than the consciously “art” bands. Silly questions of importance, longevity, and cultural relevance are ridiculous to ask of Oberhofer. It’s a damn good rock band that plays damn catchy songs really damn well. Isn’t that enough?